Sunday, 3 March 2013

Gunning for Sanity: A Review of Stephen King's essay "Guns"

What struck me as so astonishing about the points raised in this 25 page essay on guns by bestselling author Stephen King, was not the reasonability of his points but that they needed stating at all. He's not against the Second Amendment, he doesn't want it repealed especially as he owns 3 handguns himself - no, he wants gun control, like millions of other Americans, because he's sick of seeing more and more news stories of yet another maniac loading up on firepower and shooting random innocents because they're miserable and crazy.

King wrote a novel as a teenager about a kid who goes into a school with a gun, then rewrote it years later and published it under the pseudonym Richard Bachman as "Rage". Unfortunately, as King points out, the novel became a touchstone for some gun toting lunatics who went on to kill others in schools and he ended up withdrawing it from publication. To him it was the responsible thing to do.

After detailing the most recent atrocities of gun violence in America - specifically Sandy Hook and Aurora - he reaches the crux of the essay which is that assault weapons should be banned, clips should be limited to 10 bullets, and background checks be made more thorough. Very reasonable - and amazing that anyone would oppose this!

What is the use of an automatic assault rifle? Hunters readily admit that if you shot game with it they'd be inedible making the whole point of hunting in the first place pointless. What, you're going to defend your home with an automatic weapon?! It doesn't make any sense that such military grade weaponry should be made readily available to members of the public. And limiting clips to 10 bullets? How many do you need to take out the imaginary burglar just itching to get into your place? If you need more than 10, you probably shouldn't have a gun to start with. Thorough background checks and harsh penalties against those who lie to obtain guns - who could be against this, honestly!

That these points are still issues shows just how badly America needs this discussion on gun control, especially as the news becomes morbidly repetitive in its stories of yet another disturbed young man (it always seems to be young men) pushed too far for whatever reason and deciding to check out in the bloodiest way possible. It's good that someone as famous as Stephen King use his celebrity to bring more focus on this important issue, using his writing ability to express clearly and eloquently the matter at hand. Here's hoping reason wins.


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